Y’know all of those posts and articles about the changes that the English language has undergone since the invention of short message services (Instant Messaging, SMS, Twitter etc)? The ones which start with a phrase along the lines of ‘SMS is changing the way we communicate. Subtlety, nuance and meaning are being pushed aside in the name of brevity and frankly, it scares me.’? Yeah no, this isn’t going to be one of those posts.

I agree that abbreviations and emoticons are changing the way that we communicate. I agree that subtlety, nuance and meaning are rarely considered when it comes to short-form communication. However, I put it to you that these forms of communication are not the place for subtlety. It’s hard to read between the lines when your sentence contains but one line.

In light of this, I present to you my condensed list of emoticons and abbreviations and their appropriate uses. Hopefully this will shed some light on these common phrases and will help you to understand why your doting grandmother is laughing out loud at news of the recent passing of your family pet.

If I’ve missed any, shout out in the comments and I’ll revise the list.

  • lol = Laugh Out Loud
    A misnomer if you ask me. The brazen lie of this abbreviation becomes obvious when working in an office that allows it’s staff to use instant messaging to communicate. Very rarely does “lol” actually mean that the loller is in fact physically laughing out loud, it simply means that they acknowledge that something is funny. (Lots Of Love is the deprecated definition of this abbreviation. Can make things a little awkward: “Sorry to hear about your dead pet lol”)
  • haha/gahaha
    On par with lol.
  • LOL = Laugh Out Loud (no, for reals this time)
    The capitalisation of the acronym should be used to imply the presence of actual laughter.
  • ROFL = Rolling On The Floor Laughing
    No, generally users of this abbreviation aren’t actually rolling on the floor. This is simply a grade above LOL in the funniness stakes.
    On par with ROFL.
    Rolling On The Floor Laughing So Hard My Sombrero Fell Off And I Dropped My Taco

    Does this really need an explanation?
  • TL;DR = Too long; didn’t read
    Used to provide a reader with a cliff-notes/short version of the longer body of text. For example, “[Huge wall of text complaining about the weather] TL;DR It was raining today. I didn’t like it.” Also often used in a dismissive fashion to note that a piece of text is too long.
  • brb = Be Right Back
    The user will be afk for a short period of time.
  • afk = Away From Keyboard
    The author will be online, but away from their keyboard until further notice.
  • afaik = As Far As I Know
    As far as the author is aware.
  • 🙂
    When used at the end of a sentence, the presence of a smiley face informs the reader that the preceding text was meant to be taken positively.
  • 😛
    When used at the end of a sentence, the presence of the pokey-out-tongue face informs the reader that the preceding text was meant in jest and not to be taken seriously.
  • 🙁
    A sadface informs the reader that the author is unhappy about the current subject of conversation.
  • >:(
    The author is both sad and angry.
  • >:)
    The author is being cheeky/devious.
  • ಠ_ಠ
    Look of disapproval. The author disapproves of the subject of conversation.
  • (yಠ,ಠ)y
    The Y U NO guy.
  • \m/>.<\m/
    Dude throwin’ up the horns. Rocking out. Rock and/or Roll.
  • ..|.,
    You just got given the finger.
  • *
    Used to repair a mistype in a recent IM message or similar.
    “I like caek. It is yummy.”

    2 Replies to “Transliteration”

    1. I really think the smiley phenomenon has given text and writing more expression. When you end a sentence with a period, there are often many things they could mean, but when you put a 🙂 or a 😛 or a >8( or a … or a : or a :(, what you really mean comes across a lot better.

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